So your computer crashed again and you have no idea why. It could be that your kids decided to download yet another game or maybe you installed an update you thought was safe, only to find your computer completely different. When it comes to protecting yourself from identity theft, it is so important to know how, and what cybercriminals are doing to steal your identity.
Information and identity theft is a constant threat for those of us who use the internet on a daily basis. Most of us have virus protection installed; but when it comes to protecting your identity, using several different approaches is necessary to keeping you and your family safe from computer identity theft.
How do hackers steal your identity?
Hackers use malicious software also called malware designed to get your computer to perform tasks and reveal your personal information. A botnet is a robot that is part of a network. Evidence that your computer is infected is that your computer will run slower than usual. Unfortunately a botnet is designed to turn your computer into a zombie that performs tasks without your knowledge.
How does your computer get a botnet?
Botnets are considered malware and may end up on your computer when you decide to download a new tool bar, or click on an advertisement. Sometimes botnets come attached to programs you might think are safe. The worst thing about botnets is that criminals use them to spread viruses and send out spammed email messages that are infected. Following are some tips that you can use to keep your computer free from viruses and malware.
- Visit Microsoft’s safety and security center for the latest protection against malware, phishing scams and to learn about new security features you can install to help protect your computer from identity theft. http://www.microsoft.com/security/pc-security/default.aspx#Safety-products-and-scans
- Install HouseCall by Trend Micro to keep your computer safe from worms, Trojans, malware and other unwanted browser plugins. http://housecall.trendmicro.com/
- Use strong passwords. According to Microsoft, cybercriminals install malware that can either trick you into installing it or simply hack into your account because your system and passwords are weak and vulnerable.
- Install Malwarebytes Anti-Malware software to enable your PC to detect and get rid of malware, spyware, rootkits, dialers, Trojans, and worms. http://www.malwarebytes.org/products/malwarebytes_free/
- Be careful of spoofed websites because cybercriminals use them to infect your computer.
- Scan your computer for malware and viruses at least once a week, or if you feel it is not running as it should.
- When installing a new program from Adobe or McAfee, pay attention and never install additional programs or toolbars. Many times these extra programs include spyware that are hard to remove; so it may be necessary to manually go into your system files and search for the file, even after you uninstalled the program.
When it comes to protecting your computer from identity theft, your security requires you to be armed and prepared; because sadly hackers are counting on your lack of knowledge. If you feel that you have been a victim of identity theft and you live in Santa Ana, contact the Santa Ana Police Department’s Economic Crime Unit at http://www.ci.santa-ana.ca.us/pd/economiccrimes.asp If you live anywhere else and have experienced fraud or identity theft while using your computer, you can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at http://www.ic3.gov/crimeschemes.aspx It is so important that you report your experience even if you don’t feel like it is a big deal. The FBI continually updates and warns consumers based off the complaints they recieve.
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